Thursday, October 10, 2013

Daily Encouragement (10/10/13) "The Word Of God Changes Lives" (Bernie Elliot Testimony)

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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Nolt Mill fall display 10/9/13
Fall display in front of Nolts Mill, Bird In Hand PA

"The Word Of God Changes Lives"
Bernie Elliot Testimony

For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any double edged Sword. It penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12).

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Bernie ElliotBernie Elliot is a friend of ours who lives in the Pittsburgh area. For over 30 years he has been involved in a ministry known as "Bible Quiz", which specifically helps young people to study and memorize the Word of God. We had the Bible Quiz ministry in the church we served in northern Pennsylvania over twenty years ago and Bernie helped us set it up. I called Bernie this morning and he still remembers students we had in the program.* Ester was involved in Bible Quiz during her teen years in our current local church.

Bernie has a testimony as a former New York police officer and we share it with you today illustrating the power of God's Word to change lives.

Bernie Elliot when a police officer
As a police officer I didn't have much of an interest in the whole church thing. My faith was in my skill and my police partner and the camaraderie that our high-pressure jobs brought out in us. I didn't need church at the end of the day; I needed to unwind at the bar telling stories and letting the stress ease away.

My wife, Jean, was a Christian who was praying for my salvation.
She never failed to ask me to go to church with her at first, but after the umpteenth refusal she finally stopped asking and instead continued faithfully to take our children each week. She persevered on her knees, quietly praying and waiting as our marriage continued to disintegrate around us.

God began to chase me down in ways I never could have anticipated. I was shocked one day when my partner, John, handed me a Gospel tract and asked me to read it. I couldn't help but laugh; I thought for sure he must be kidding, but he wasn't. John said Jesus had changed his life.

Shortly after, I was working alone when a 19 year old boy put a sawed-off gun to my chest. As I stood there with my hands raised all I could think about was the tract and that question, "If you die tonight, where will you spend eternity?" As the boy looked at me, I knew he was going to shoot me. But then, for some completely unknown reason, he dropped the gun and ran, only to be caught within the block. I stood frozen in the street unable to move, stunned by how I had so narrowly escaped death. Surely, this couldn't have been a coincidence.

The next time John invited me to his Bible study I didn't have to think twice. I may not be the brightest cop, but even I knew something else was bound to happen if I didn't go! God was chasing me and He had won.
It was time to face this once and for all. Sitting there that night, I ended the battle and gave my life to Christ and that very night our marriage was healed.

No longer did I believe the Word was just a reading exercise or a crutch for the weak; it began to jump off the pages, speaking to my everyday life. It became so alive in me; it not only changed the way I lived, but what I wanted to do with my life. After 10 years I left the police force after holding a .357 on a teenage girl who desperately needed the Lord. In her broken eyes I saw the souls of countless youth crying out for a Savior. In that moment I heard the Holy Spirit speak to me that I would never arrest them again, but I would share the name of Jesus with them.

I knew every call, every victim, every suspect needed to know the name and power of Jesus Christ and His Word.

Bernie & Jean ElliotIt was clear that God had placed a calling on Bernie's life and shortly thereafter he entered into ministry. For the past thirty years he has been faithful in presenting the wonderful name of Jesus and challenging our youth to get into the Word of God. His conviction remains firm: "There is no weapon stronger, no resource greater, no guide brighter than the Word. The Word changes lives!"

Bernie and Jean have two children and seven grandchildren, with two of the oldest in Bible Quiz!

Today's Scripture text illustrates the power of God's Word. "For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any double edged Sword. It penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."

Today, let us serve the Lord and appropriate His ever powerful Word in changing our lives and the lives of others.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we thank You for the divine power of Your Holy Word which is living and active, sharper than any double edged sword. It cuts through the facade we present to others and reveals the contents of our heart since nothing in all creation is hidden from Your sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before You, our Creator, to whom we must give an account. Search our hearts and cleanse us of our sins. Replace our selfish pursuits and prideful thoughts with Your love divine so that we will magnify Your holy name. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

* Sharon, one of the students that Bernie remembers from our church plant in Northern Pennsylvania, is now married to a police officer and has three daughters. They are active in that same church as they serve the Lord together.

Additional note Bernie writes regarding the impact of Bible Quizzing: Back when I was on the streets keeping the peace, I never dreamed the impact God’s Word would have on the lives of my family, my students and me. My son, a man of God who lives by the Word having memorized 13 New Testament books as a teenager, is currently pastoring in Syracuse, New York – a reality that, but for the grace of God, would never have come to pass. Who do you know that needs to hear the Word? The time has come to speak – a generation is waiting to listen.

Due to the testimony nature of today's message we had little Scripture exposition. For further study we suggest the Precept online commentary on Hebrews 4:12. This is a vast resource for serious Bible students. Notice how long this page is just for one verse!

Nolt Mill fall display 10/9/13
Nolt Mill fall display

Amishman on open cart 10/9/13
Yesterday we came up behind this Amishman and noticed his comfortable car seat.

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources

"Word Of God Speak"  Video  MercyMe

"Speak O Lord"  Video  Keith & Kristyn Getty This is a newer song and has such powerful lyrics. When we pastored we would often sing this just prior to the preaching of God's Word to prepare the hearts of God's people in receiving the message.

Speak, O Lord, as we come to You
To receive the food of Your Holy Word.
Take Your truth, plant it deep in us;
Shape and fashion us in Your likeness,
That the light of Christ might be seen today
In our acts of love and our deeds of faith.
Speak, O Lord, and fulfill in us
All Your purposes for Your glory.

Teach us, Lord, full obedience,
Holy reverence, true humility;
Test our thoughts and our attitudes
In the radiance of Your purity.
Cause our faith to rise; cause our eyes to see
Your majestic love and authority.
Words of pow'r that can never fail-
Let their truth prevail over unbelief.

Speak, O Lord, and renew our minds;
Help us grasp the heights of Your plans for us-
Truths unchanged from the dawn of time
That will echo down through eternity.
And by grace we'll stand on Your promises,
And by faith we'll walk as You walk with us.
Speak, O Lord, till Your church is built
And the earth is filled with Your glory.

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